01 July 2020
While most industries have suffered negative consequences as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the events industry has been particularly devastated by the protracted lock-down and its economic impact. As other industries have slowly begun resuming business activities, event’s organisers, venues and suppliers to the industry still await the broader re-opening of the Events Industry sector.
The social nature of events dictates the importance of providing and enforcing prevention and control measures against exposure to the virus. Recognising the need for stringent control, Event Safety Council (ESC) a special interest council within the Southern African Communications Industries Association’s (SACIA) in collaboration with the South African Event Council (SAEC) undertook the task of preparing Re-opening Guidelines for the South African Events Industry Sector. These protocols aim to assist the industry in resuming activities as safely as possible in accordance with the overall national strategies and policies.
The ESC drew on its affiliation with US-based Event Safety Alliance (ESA) and collaborated with other similar international players in putting the Re-Opening Guidelines together, which ensured that international best practice was embedded throughout the standards.
The Event Safety Council Re-opening Guidelines were written in collaboration with the SA Event Council represented by the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), The Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA), Technical Production & Services Association (TPSA), Council of Events Professionals Africa (CEPA), Event Greening Forum (EGF), Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Professional Conference Organisers’ Alliance Network (PCOAN) and the South African Live Performance Association (SALPA). The result is an inclusive and informed set of Guidelines, in which the entire events industry of South Africa is well represented and which paves the way to re-opening the sector.
The back-to-work Re-Opening Guidelines were officially released to the local events industry on the 17th of June. Fortuitously, later that day, Government proposed an amendment to Alert Level 3 Lockdown Regulations which will allow for the hosting of smaller business conferences limited to 50 attendees and below.
On Thursday 18th of June, the amended Alert Level 3 regulations were published outlining the changes. “We gratefully acknowledge this amendment and will make ourselves available to engage with Government on a National, Provincial and Metro level in practically re-opening the sector,” says Mike Lord, Interim Chairperson for the Event Safety Council. “At the same time, we ask the events industry members to continue to exercise patience while Government and the Associations represented in the SA Event Council work with Government on providing practical solutions in allowing 50 attendees or less business conferences to be held immediately.
The SA Event Council is engaging with Government on a step by step approach to re-opening the sector further. We believe that having these industry Guidelines ready for implementation allows for a phased approach to re-opening the sector which is in-line with the requirements of the Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measures (4th June 2020).
The ESC Guidelines define a 5-tier event categorisation (Very Low Risk to Very High Risk) with a specific set of safety guidelines per category. There is also provision made for specialist compliance staff appointments to manage the safety and prevention of exposure to COVID-19 at events. Safety processes are outlined across all the areas of Communication, Sanitisation, Cleaning and Hygiene, Venue requirements, Attendee Management, Event Management, Staff Health Management and Transportation.
“The event industry already carries out comprehensive risk assessment, safety checks and logistical planning for every event, so including a COVID-19 mitigation plan as an extension of existing event planning mechanisms is easily achievable,” says Mike.
The Event Safety Council has already met with key government event stakeholders in the City of Tshwane and the City of Johannesburg in forging a way forward and engagement meetings are scheduled with the City of Cape Town and other municipalities within South Africa. The SA Event Council is engaging with the Department of Employment and Labour, Department of Health, Department of Tourism as well as the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in working together as private and public sector in further re-opening the events industry safely and responsibly.
“During these difficult times we are pleased to see organised industry coming together to embrace safety protocols that protect employers, employees and freelancers working in the events industry,” says Kevan Jones, executive director of SACIA. “We look forward to fruitful and positive outcomes from these engagements. As representatives of the events sector, we remain engaged in looking for solutions to rebuild the economy of this much-needed sector.”
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